Impressed in bronze on a medal placed on the chest of Czar Nicholas I as he lay in his coffin was an image of Hagia Sophia, the mother church of Orthodoxy.
Readers of Patrick Leigh Fermor will remember the dream sequence in which the old fisherman of the Mani imagines himself part of a great armada which retakes Constantinople and re-establishes the empire of the Romans.
No one can doubt the symbolic resonance of Justinian’s church and the dome of Isidore and Anthemius.
Which is why we should be shocked that President Erdoğan of Turkey and members of his government are preparing to say Muslim prayers in Hagia Sophia (which has been a museum since the days of Ataturk) on Good Friday.
No act of aggression could speak more powerfully of the antipathy towards Christianity which animates so much of Muslim culture.